Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States, I have found myself, multiple times during the week, in conversations with friends, colleagues, and family members bemoaning our current state of affairs and longing for the “before days,” pre-COVID-19. We could all do as we pleased, unrestricted, able to express affection by hugging one another, shaking hands, going to school or work, and living our lives without having to worry about a potentially deadly virus harming us or our loved ones by getting too close to someone, not having our mask on, or touching a contaminated surface.
Aside from the devastating toll this has had on public health, with a staggering 200,000+ deaths in the United States, and more than 900,000 globally (which is most likely an undercount), the big heartache for me is the devastating impact this situation is having on our children. What is going to become of them as we work through this? We know that they are resilient, but as a person who works closely with some of the most vulnerable people in our city, what is the long-term impact that this pandemic will have on our youth? How will the isolation, economic fallout, and health issues affect them in the long run?
With safety as our number-one priority, our Horizons at CA students have started the new school year in a variety of ways—some are back in the classroom, some are online, and some are in a hybrid situation with a mix of online and in school. We are all adapting to this situation and pivoting as needed. In speaking with teachers, students, and families, this situation is challenging for all involved. Just as marginalized communities are at higher risk for contracting the virus and suffering more from an economic standpoint, underserved students are experiencing what is now known as the COVID slide in far greater numbers, which means that they are falling farther and farther behind, increasing the achievement and opportunity gaps even more.
For this reason, we are assessing where our Horizons students are academically and working to match students with CA Upper School tutors, so at the very least, Horizons students have extra support as they go through this incredibly challenging time. We are also revamping our Horizons high school program, pairing our students with mentors to help them through high school and guide them with creating a plan for post-high school that will allow them to lead choice-filled lives.
As we look to mitigate the fallout from COVID on our students, I find inspiration and hope in how communities are coming together to help one another. Below is a list of excellent resources to help understand the issues:
Code Switch – The Kids Are All Right
Reveal – Home School